***Please pardon the pictures as all were taken on an iPhone 3G. No good camera should be taken out during festivities like these.***
I had no clue that we were sailing into one of the biggest celebrations that Cartagena has seen in a long long time. Cartagena independence.
We somehow accidentally scheduled our catamaran trip to land on the night of November 10 – the night before the official bicentennial celebration of Cartagena (11/11/11 – HOW COOL IS THAT?!). First of all – Colombians are already known to party freaking HARD. Then you add a bicentennial on it?
The first few days we hung out with the Santana crew taking part of the festivities, going out for drinks, dancing the night away, etc. We were really digging it. We laughed when every person came back to the hostel covered in paint and foam. Everyone was in a fantastic mood. The street food was great, the music was greater, and the energy.. OH THE ENERGY!
We parked ourselves on the Old Town’s fortress wall for a few hours with friend enjoying the parade. The costumes were so bright and beautiful. People on stilts in yellow and purple silk costumes came waving flags and making the crowds bust into dance even though the sun was beating down on everyone. Foam was flying high, giggles could be heard. Everyone was in good spirits.
We walked home only to be confronted with a “gang” of young boys with blue paint smothered not only on their faces but on their hands. They cracked a knowing smile. I was their next victim. Four boys tackled me and covered me from head to toe in blue paint and corn starch. I was even so unlucky to have foam sprayed into my ear. Things definitely sound interesting with a perpetual crackle.
And then the novelty of it started to wear off.
After multiple days of said partying I was ready to see Cartagena for the city, rather than the spectacle we had been experiencing. Most of the Santana crew was in the same mindset as well.
We had been semi-held up and weapon-point TWICE (long story, maybe we will make it a blog post one day but we’re FINE and we have all our things).
We started hibernating in our rooms. We brought beer to be enjoyed inside.
Shaun and I went to the plaza to grab some street food for the night. As we headed out into the street we noticed a shift. More fireworks. More noise. Louder music. More people. The streets were slippery from the amount of foam.
Then tragedy stuck…
Our clean laundry was immediately covered in corn starch.
I had foam shot into my eyes point blank. People were coming out of the woodwork. As we held our foam doused street food hamburger to make a run for it back to the hostel it happened.
Bigger than a noise maker. Smaller than a bomb. We’ll call it a mini bomb. I had actually FELT the soundwave hit me. I swore I saw it. People screamed and for a moment I felt panic. Then laughter from the crowd ensued. Just a homemade massive noise maker. Hell, the police didn’t even move.
We made our way back to our hostel in a daze. We locked ourselves in our room, turned on some crime shows on AXN, and told ourselves, “Tonight is the last night. Everything should be better tomorrow right?”